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Is Seminary Part of Your Calling?

Sitting at the feet of Jesus might mean getting a degree

Of course, there are obstacles. Obstacles can be circumstantial, as some women set their vocations aside in order to care for family and never pick them back up again. Seminary itself can also present obstacles, as it has been a pretty exclusively male space until recent decades. Even though there’s been progress, women still face many more barriers than men when it comes to getting theological training. You’ve probably experienced these barriers. They can be as subtle as a lack of encouragement, or a mislabeling of pastoral or leadership gifts as something else—for instance, telling a teen who demonstrates a natural understanding of Scripture that she’ll “make a great pastor’s wife someday.” I know women who have experienced active and open discouragement as they have pursued a pastoral path.

In spite of all the possible hindrances, women are answering the call. At the seminary I attended, I met women from all walks of life—women with young kids, grown kids, and no kids; married, never married, divorced; fresh out of college, and in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Some were simultaneously working in ministry, and some were not. There was no singular way God had called any of them. All of them were smart, inquisitive, creative people who loved God, Scripture, mission, and the church. Yet, I know there were women who were missing from those classrooms.

In her research on women in seminary, Sharon Hodde Miller discovered that one of the most powerful pulls of seminary for women is the depth of learning. Miller writes, “Christian women want to study the Bible, learn the languages, and better understand theology.” God can use this kind of learning in absolutely anything you do, whether that’s as church staff or in a conversation with your 14-year-old. There is no downside to God’s daughters getting degrees.

Jesus Isn’t Practical

We live in a world where logic and good sense is encouraged in all of our decision-making, and I wonder sometimes if that isn’t one of the biggest barriers to the movement of the Spirit. For what in the Bible could be described as logical, and where has the movement of God ever been practical? Think of Abraham and Sarah, laughing giddily at the news that they would be senior citizen parents. Picture Mary, a young woman just going about her business, visited in the night by an angel who informs her she’s going to become supernaturally pregnant with the Savior of the world before she gets married. And then there’s Jesus himself, who in word and action defied both logic and practicality in any way we might humanly define it. Yet, in spite of these stories we know in our bones, we so often lean on the practical when it comes to our own lives. There’s stewarding what you’ve been given, yes—but there’s also burying it in the ground so that nothing is ever at risk.

October05, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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